By Dr. Marciene Mattleman
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - In 2010, 48,000 young people were confined in U.S. correctional institutions. Putting that number in perspective, it corresponds to the number of youth currently residing in Louisville, Kentucky; Nashville, Tennessee; Baltimore, Maryland; and Portland, Oregon.
About 36% are held in long term correctional institutions run by state governments. While a small number of offenders are a threat to public safety, most are not.
Our reliance on training schools, reformatories and youth correction centers, some holding 200-300 young people, tops every nation in the world, five times the rate of the next highest country, South Africa.
According to Richard Mendel in American Educator, we waste vast sums of money and often increase recidivism in such settings while research has shown that small programs that develop skills and address challenges is a rehabilitation strategy that works.
In the same journal, Jennifer Dubin describes in “Metamorphosis” how Missouri’s small facilities provide therapy and education with academic support — a model for juvenile justice reform.
Read more at AFT.org.